Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 235 - The Glorious Vanilla Bean

But first, an update. So far this week I'm doing better about being mindful of my eating, and it feels really good, empowering type good, to be getting that small portion of my life back in control. It's amazing how one area of chaos spills over into another. Maybe eating in control will lead to my laundry being under control, too. A girl can wish...

So. The vanilla bean. The wondrous fruit of the Orchidaceae family of orchids (I didn't just make that up, click to learn about the vanilla orchid). Even though I could go on ad nauseum about the scientific and botanical importance of this fruit, I will refrain. I will instead tell you what I like to do with it!

A vanilla bean, split and scraped.
That mass of darkness is where it's at. Those are the tiny little 'seeds' inside the vanilla bean. They are the little black specs you see in vanilla bean ice cream, or in creme brulee or cheesecake. They are not the only useful part of this pod though. Never discard those wonderful bean pods! They can be steeped in milk for pudding or scratch made hot cocoa. Or you can make your coffee just a little bit more wonderful...

Awesome vanilla/coffee idea number one: Get a little mason jar (the kind you use to make homemade jam) and place your scraped vanilla bean pod(s) in and fill the jar with white granulated sugar. Give it a couple weeks and the sugar will be infused with the vanilla essence. Use the sugar in coffee, gentle black or white teas, on top of sugar cookies for baking... Or any other sugar application that would benefit from a hint of vanilla. No need to toss the vanilla pods out after they have mingled with the sugar for two weeks, I've left mine in for more than six months and they simply continue to impart their aroma and flavor into the sugar.

Idea number two: infused coffee!

My favorite at home brew in the background, Peet's Coffee (Major Dickason's Blend). Not widely available--yet--on the East coast (a staple on shelves on the corners of intersections in the Pacific Northwest), but if you can find it, give it a try. It won me over after the first sip.

I have a Keurig coffee machine that is like my left arm... I don't know what I'd do without it on the mornings that I'm not on campus at Apple Pie Bakery Cafe. It's my coffee buddy. It makes a freshly brewed individual cup every time, and it only takes 30 seconds! Now, you can buy prepackaged 'K-Cups' that are already measured out coffee/tea/cocoa, insert, press a button and enjoy--which I do. You can also get a nifty little attachment for under $10 and fill it any time you like with your favorite at home blend (like Peet's). And I figured why not add something else as it works it's magic?

Vanilla bean seeds! I scraped them and added them along with the coffee grounds to the cup for my coffee and brewed away...

There's my Keurig and my new favorite coffee mug from another Pacific Northwest institution, Seattle's Best Coffee (which is incidentally owned by Starbucks, and which I prefer to their powerful and popular big brother corporation).

Mmmmmmmmm!!! Add a little vanilla bean infused sugar, a touch of milk (or not) and you've made a pretty special cup of coffee.  A very simply way to indulge without having to explain it to your hips : )

What's your favorite at home brew? And how do you jazz it up?


  1. I love your photos! I drink a locally roasted coffee every day with a little splash of flavored creamer. I wouldn't get out of bed if it weren't for my Dancing Goats blend :)

  2. I'll have to see if I can find Dancing Goats around here and give 'em a try. I always love trying small companies that do what they do because they believe in it, believe in their quality and are passionate about their product and the people who enjoy it.


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